This week, Toyota Motor Corp. started selling its Aqua hybrid-electric compact car in Japan as the world's biggest hybrid-vehicle maker looks to build upon the success of its Prius with a smaller, more efficient variant.

The Aqua, which is about the size of a Toyota Yaris, has a base price of 1.69 million yen ($21,669 U.S. at today's exchange rates) and gets about 83 miles per gallon (on the forgiving Japanese test cycle), Toyota said in a statement Monday. The car pairs a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with an electric motor powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery. The two motors deliver a combined 98 horsepower and give the car a 0-62 miles per hour acceleration time of 10.7 seconds.

Toyota is looking to sell 12,000 Aquas a month in Japan – and is already way ahead of that target. The automaker has received 60,000 pre-orders for the car, according to Ubergizmo. Toyota unveiled a handful of production and concept Aqua models last month at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show and will debut the model stateside as the Prius C at the Detroit Auto Show next month. That car is likely to get better than 50 miles per gallon per EPA standards.

Through the first 11 months of the year, Toyota sold about 120,000 Prius vehicles in the U.S., which accounted for about half the hybrids and battery-electric vehicles sold domestically. For the 2012 model year, Toyota started selling two new variants of the Prius in the U.S.: the Prius Plug-In Hybrid and the Prius V wagon. The Plug-In has a base price of $32,000, while the Prius V starts at $26,400.

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TMC Launches 'Aqua' in Japan
Compact Hybrid Combines Driving Enjoyment with World-Leading Fuel Efficiency

Toyota City, Japan, December 26, 2011-Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announces the launch in Japan today of the "Aqua"*1 gasoline-electric compact hybrid.

The Aqua combines a comfortable and roomy interior with a stylish body, and displays exciting acceleration and agility.

The Aqua incorporates 17 years of Toyota expertise and technology in the development of mass-produced hybrid vehicles, and boasts a small, light and efficient hybrid system that achieves a world-leading*2 fuel efficiency of 35.4 km/L under the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's (MLIT's) JC08 test cycle and 40.0 km/L*3 under the MLIT 10-15 test cycle.

With a starting price of 1.69 million yen, the Aqua offers the pleasure of hybrid vehicles to an even broader range of consumers in Japan.

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices Grade Hybrid System Driveline Price*
L THS II with reduction gear Front-wheel drive 1,690,000 yen
S 1,790,000 yen
G 1,850,000 yen
*Includes consumption tax, does not include recycling fees and differs in Hokkaido and Okinawa

Vehicle Outline

Exceptional Fuel Efficiency

The Aqua features a state-of-the-art, small, light and efficient 1.5-liter Toyota Hybrid System II (THS II) with reduction gear, which achieves a fuel efficiency of 35.4 km/L in the JC08 test cycle and 40.0 km/L in the MLIT 10-15 test cycle.

A cooled Exhaust-Gas Recirculation (EGR) system improves efficiency in the high-expansion-ratio Atkinson cycle engine. Also contributing to increased engine efficiency is a battery-powered water pump, a friction-reducing beltless design and precise coolant-water-flow volume control.

The hybrid transaxle, which includes the power control unit, the power-generation motor and drive motor, has also been designed to be small and light.

A selectable electric-vehicle mode (EV Mode) enables driving with only the electric motor.

Key Hybrid System Specifications Engine Model 1NZ-FXE
Displacement 1,496 cc
Maximum output 54 kW (74 PS)/4,800 rpm
Maximum torque 111 N-m (11.3 kgf-m)/3,600-4,400 rpm
Motor Maximum output 45 kW (61 PS)
Maximum torque 169 N-m (17.2 kgf-m)
Engine & Motor Combined maximum output* 73 kW (100 PS)
Battery Nickel-metal hydride
*Based on TMC calculations

Design Combines Elements of Fun and Sophistication

The Aqua's active and fun styling provides outstanding aerodynamic performance with a comfortable interior in a compact body.

The exterior offers a bold and modern design with a powerful and refined front mask and a rear silhouette that evokes imagery of brisk yet stable driving performance.

The vehicle comes in ten vibrant and stylish body colors, including new Citrus Orange Mica Metallic and Lime White Pearl Crystal Shine.

The instrument panel structure evokes a great sense of space, while the modern and geometric layout with color-coded, switch-operated areas reflect the pursuit of enjoyment and user-friendliness.

Distinctive and effective accent color placement contributes to a brighter interior and is available in four patterns: Earth Brown, Fresh Green, Cool Blue, and Natural Gray.

Front and rear seats with ample head clearance and legroom provide excellent comfort.

The hybrid battery has been sized for placement under the rear seat, resulting in a spacious cargo area of 305 liters*4.

Exhilarating Performance for Enhanced Driving Pleasure

In addition to a long 2,550 mm wheelbase, the hybrid unit and engine are positioned to create a low center of gravity for superior maneuvering performance.

Engine and motor power combine to provide smooth acceleration from standstill to 100 km/h in 10.7 seconds and also at mid-range speeds, such as from 40 km/h to 70 km/h in 3.6 seconds (all measurements according to TMC).

With a minimum turning radius of 4.8 meters, the Aqua also boasts excellent maneuverability.

Fun and Easy-to-use Hybrid

The instrument panel sports a myriad of functions that support environment-conscious and enjoyable driving. The Hybrid System Indicator offers easy-to-understand information concerning eco-driving, such as effective accelerator use. In addition to the standard display, an optional high-resolution thin-film-transistor liquid crystal multi-information display provides a variety of eco-driving information. Eco Judge ranks eco-driving on a 100-point scale, and Eco Wallet shows money saved as compared with other levels of fuel efficiency.

High-level Safety and Comfort-Enhancing Features

ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) maximizes braking performance, with the EBD appropriately distributing braking force between the front and rear wheels according to driving conditions. Also, a brake assist function generates extra braking force to assist the driver in emergency braking situations.

Vehicle Stability Control controls brake and engine output to maintain vehicle stability if skidding occurs. Traction Control controls wheel spin to simplify acceleration operation.

Hill-start Assist Control reduces anxiety about the vehicle rolling backwards when starting on a steep incline.

Automatic air conditioning comes standard on all models and is equipped with an electric inverter compressor run by the electric motor, enabling a comfortably air-conditioned interior even when the engine is off.

In addition to seat heaters, the exhaust heat recirculation system draws heat from the engine directly into the cooling water, enhancing heating performance and fuel efficiency in the winter.

Diverse Range of Packages Meet a Range of Needs

The Aqua is available in seven different packages.

Package Main Features
1 Smart entry package - Smart entry and start system for driver, passenger, and rear doors (with answer-back function)
- Antitheft system (engine and motor immobilizer)
- Light controls (auto on/off lights and auto shutoff headlights)

2 LED headlight package - LED headlights (with auto leveling function, headlight cleaner, black extension ornamentation, and auto shutoff system)
- Front fog lights

3 Touring package - 195/50R16 tires and 16x6J aluminum wheels (with center ornamentation)
- Large rear roof spoiler
- Smoked headlamp trim
- Dedicated suspension

4 Beauty package - nanoe*
- Super UV-cut Glass (front doors)
- Seat heaters (driver and passenger seats)
- Passenger seat sun visor with vanity mirror

5 Advanced display package - TFT multi-information display
- Touch Tracer Display
- Steering-wheel-mounted switches (audio system operation, Trip and Display buttons, and air conditioning switches; with touch tracer function)

6 Navigation system ready package - Backup camera
- Six speakers
- Steering-wheel-mounted switches (audio system operation, Trip and Display buttons, and air conditioning switches)

7 Audio system package - CD + AM/FM & AUX terminals
- Steering-wheel-mounted switches (audio system operation, Trip and Display buttons, and air conditioning switches)
- Six speakers

*nanoe and the nanoe logo are trademarks of Panasonic Corporation

Welcabs: Vehicles with Factory-installed Features for The Disabled

The Rotating Passenger Seat model features a passenger seat that rotates to facilitate smooth ingress and egress. The Type B model features an electric loading/unloading mechanism for manual wheelchairs.

Welcab Friendmatic Seat models allow for the installation of devices such as a specialized driver's seat, to help people without use of their legs drive with only their hands (scheduled for release in March 2012). Special-purpose power steering that reduces the force necessary to turn the steering wheel comes standard, helping to ease steering during initial acceleration and low-speed driving.

The Friendmatic-exclusive remote-controlled power driver's seat available on Types II and IV, aids movement to and from a wheelchair. Types III and IV include the Welcarry device, which automatically stows a wheelchair on the vehicle's roof.

Manufacturer's Suggested Welcab Retail Prices

Variant Grade Hybrid system Driveline Price*
Rotating Passenger Seat model (Type A) S THS II with reduction gear Front-wheel drive 1,895,000 yen
G 1,955,000 yen
Rotating Passenger Seat model (Type B) S 1,894,000 yen
G 1,951,000 yen
Welcab Friendmatic model (Type I) S 1,890,000 yen
G 1,950,000 yen
Welcab Friendmatic model (Type II) S 2,125,000 yen
G 2,182,000 yen
Welcab Friendmatic model (Type III) S 2,297,000 yen
G 2,354,000 yen
Welcab Friendmatic model (Type IV) S 2,622,000 yen
G 2,679,000 yen
*Includes consumption tax, differs in Hokkaido and Okinawa and excludes recycling fees. Rotating passenger Seat Type B and Welcab Friendmatic model Type II, Type III, and Type IV are exempt from consumption taxes; Welcab Friendmatic model Type I is exempt from consumption taxes only when the specialized driver's seat is installed at the time of purchase.

*1Derived from the Latin word meaning water. The name is meant to evoke an image of clean transparency as well as of something that is universally cherished. Also, the Aqua is meant to break the conventional image of hybrid vehicles, becoming something fluid and not constrained to any one shape or role-like free-flowing water. With this image, it is hoped that even more people will choose to experience the joys of hybrid vehicle ownership.
*2Compared to mass-produced gasoline passenger cars (excluding plug-in hybrid vehicles). As of November 30, 2011, according to TMC.
*3G and S grades are 37.0 km/L.
*4Storage up to the top of the rear seat back calculated by TMC using the VDA method.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      Why not make this compact model a plugin too? I don't want a hybrid, I want a compact EV with range extender!
        • 8 Months Ago
        1 reason: cost. It would cost too much for Toyota to produce and would therefore cost too much for them to sell. If you are willing to shell out nearly $30K pre-subsidy for a compact I'm not going to stop you, but I don't think you'd find a long line of people behind your ready to part with their cash. Somehow I think Toyota agrees with me.
      Sasparilla Fizz
      • 8 Months Ago
      Its sharp looking, the mileage looks to be very good (as others have noted will probably be around 55 or 60mpg and the price is good too. What we've got here is the original Honda Insight CVT but with 4 doors, sound proofing, a nice ride and hybrid battery that doesn't wear out after 65k miles....Toyota should sell a ton of these things. I liked the concept look better, but this is still a good looking vehicle, nice job Toyota.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Sasparilla Fizz
        Don't overestimate, you will only find yourself disappointed. We are only likely to see 3 or 4 MPG more than a Regular Prius going by the Japanese numbers. Maybe 53 MPG. As you get further up the scale you get more into diminishing returns where it is harder to increase MPG. The big thing here is that this will almost certainly have the best MPG available and at a very low price.
      Exooc news
      • 8 Months Ago
      funny press release info "A selectable electric-vehicle mode (EV Mode) enables driving with only the electric motor." and then they state just type of battery without capacity or how long it can go in EV mode
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Exooc news
        I am betting it is still NiMH and why not, these are extremely reliable (better than Lithium), and being a smaller car than the Prius, the pack is likely slightly smaller capacity. The EV mode will be the same as on the regular Prius: Pointless.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Hey PR! Would this get that extra rebate in colorado? With the federal rebate, it would be about free. That smart electric just started looking bad, due to this...
      • 8 Months Ago
      That's more thana car with the same wheelbase as a Yaris, that is a Yaris. Compare to this pic. Same greenhouse, same front end minus a bit of fiddling. I know Toyota thinks that vehicles with the Prius name sell better than just hybrid models of other cars, but I'm not so sure it's the actual name sharing (as seen here) that's the key. The key is the Prius was designed to be a hybrid from the ground up and a Yaris, even with the Prius name, was not.
        • 8 Months Ago
        if we are to be correct, it is actually larger than yaris - actually it is verso-s, yaris mpv, sold in europe and japan, but with completely new look inside and out.
        • 8 Months Ago
        According to AN, the Aqua is based on the Yaris: "The company recently launched the wagon-style Prius V in the United States. And this spring, Toyota will add the plug-in as well as the subcompact Prius C hatchback, based on the Yaris." Read more:
      • 8 Months Ago
      I am pretty sure that this will end up being rated around 55mpg combined on the EPA sticker.
      Alex C
      • 8 Months Ago
      Looks pretty nice. I'd consider this. I do wonder what the EPA mileage number will be.
      Stevie Diffy
      • 8 Months Ago
      55 mpg would be awesome! That would save me $110 a month at present pace. It would only take 16 years to pay for itself. But, if it were replacing my truck, it would save me $466 a month and would pay for itself in 3.75 years. :) So if they could just build a light duty truck I would be very happy indeed!
      • 8 Months Ago
      Want to start making some extra incomé every month? You can... For more information, visit following website .....Your extra incomé is just a click away... Don't miss it
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 8 Months Ago
      If this car comes in under 20k stateside... with as good, or better fuel economy as the regular Prius.. it could be a bit of a bombshell. Honda would have to discontinue their Insight again :P
        • 8 Months Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        shoot, if this comes in under 20k that might finally kill some sales of the Fit too....and no honda the CRZ is not the answer here
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 8 Months Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        Oh yeah, no kidding.. a lot of smaller economy hatchback cars with a high pricetag could be killed by this thing. The CRZ *definitely* comes to mind. The mini cooper as well as it starts at $20k now ( wow.... )
      • 8 Months Ago
      These will sell much better in Japan than in the USA. Saw a Prius on the street in Tokyo and thought what the crap is that bigMutha ? Current Prius is too big for Japanese market. Notice they are using still using NiMH batteries. What does that say about lithium-based batteries ?
        • 8 Months Ago
        What it says is that they are still using old tech on their cheaper models to recover sunk costs. The plug-in is lithium. The higher end hybrids to come will all be, and that newer, better tech will trickle down. Toyota has put a couple of million NIMH battery hybrids on the road, if there was a future in it, they would be sticking to it for all their models, not just their cheapest. They see the handwriting on the wall, like everyone else.
          • 8 Months Ago
          Both the Prius V and the plug-in Prius is lithium. So that's 2 vs 2 even in the Prius line-up itself.
        • 8 Months Ago
        seriously? perhaps you haven't looked at the other side of things in Japan. They have some tiny cars, but they have monster family vans as well that are larger than anything I've seen stateside. This will sell well in Japan because it's a Toyota. If you had this exact same car and put a Ford logo on it....good luck as you'd get nothing in Japan. They are still using NiMH batteries because they want it to be as cheap as says basically that lithium based batteries are still more expensive in comparison.
        • 8 Months Ago
        The 2012 Honda Civic hybrid, 2011 Hyundai Sonata hybrid, and 2013 Nissan Altima hybrid uses lithium batteries. What does that say about lithium-based batteries?
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 8 Months Ago
        NiMH is still a good formulation of battery actually. It has it's problems, but is has a very long, low maintenance life. I am all for the latest and greatest lithium technology, and even do some detailed battery testing myself. But... i would not hesitate to buy a NiMH hybrid myself.. it's a proven tech.
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